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Useful Tropical Plants

Mallotus philippensis

(Lam.) Müll.Arg.

Euphorbiaceae

+ Synonyms

Aconceveibum trinerve Miq.

Croton coccineus Vahl

Croton distans Wall.

Croton laurifolius Noronha

Croton montanus Willd.

Croton philippensis Lam.

Croton punctatus Retz.

Echinus philippensis (Lam.) Baill.

Macaranga stricta (Rchb.f. & Zoll.) Müll.Arg.

Mallotus bicarpellatus T.Kuros.

Mallotus reticulates Dunn

Mappa stricta Rchb.f. & Zoll.

Rottlera affinis Hassk.

Rottlera aurantiaca Hook. & Arn.

Rottlera philippensis (Lam.) Scheff.

Rottlera tinctoria Roxb.

Tanarius strictus (Rchb.f. & Zoll.) Kuntze

Common Name: Kamala

Mallotus philippensis
Fruiting tree
Photograph by: Dinesh Valke
Creative Commons License
Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis Mallotus philippensis

General Information

Kamala is an evergreen tree, growing up to 25 metres tall. It has a short, and often fluted bole that can be up to 50cm in diameter, but is usually much less[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The source of kamala powder, widely used in Asia as a dye and medicine, the plant also provides a useful timber, oil and tannins. The tree has been cultivated experimentally in Nepal because of the endangered stands of this tree, and was formerly cultivated in Cameroon and Madagascar[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is grown as an ornamental, being valued especially for its red fruits[
327
Title
Euphorbiaceae of Malesia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/euphorbs/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online resource that is still being developed, it gives detailed botanical descriptions of plants in the family Euphorbiaceae found growing in Malesia (the region from Peninsual Malaysia through Indonesia, the Philippines).
].

Known Hazards

Rottlerin, a substance found in kamala powder, has been show to affect the fertility of female rats and guinea pigs, and is reportedly toxic to frogs, worms, and some fish species[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. In overdoses it causes nausea in humans[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The seeds are reported to contain a toxic glycoside[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The roots, stems and leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous acid[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In Sumatra the plant is employed as a fish poison[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Botanical References

327
Title
Euphorbiaceae of Malesia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/euphorbs/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online resource that is still being developed, it gives detailed botanical descriptions of plants in the family Euphorbiaceae found growing in Malesia (the region from Peninsual Malaysia through Indonesia, the Philippines).

Range

E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to Australia and the Solomon Isles.

Habitat

Common in evergreen forest, especially in secondary forest, and sometimes even dominant in the undergrowth. It also occurs in scrubby vegetations and on open rocky ground[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height20.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsAnts
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of lower elevations in the tropics, where it can be found from sea level to 1,600 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 25 - 34°c, but can tolerate 7 - 45°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 600 - 5,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in full sun[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
], but plants can also tolerate considerable shade[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The growth is comparatively slow - mean annual girth increment being reported in India at 0.65 cm, with a mean girth after 16 years of less than 15 cm[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Edible Uses

Kamala powder, obtained from the skins of the fruits, is used as a preservative for vegetable oils and dairy products[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Although toxic, it is said to be safe when used in this way[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Kamala also recorded to be used as a dye for food-stuffs and beverages, which seems unlikely because it is generally known as a purgative[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The oil from the seed is used for colouring foodstuffs and beverages[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Medicinal

Kamala powder, obtained from the skins of the fruits, is used as anthelmintic[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The active compound is rottlerin[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Rottlerin has been show to affect the fertility of female rats and guinea pigs, and is reportedly toxic to frogs, worms, and some fish species[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. In overdoses it causes nausea in humans[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

All parts of the tree can be applied externally to treat parasitic infections of the skin[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The fruits and bark have been reported to be used medicinally to treat stomach ulcers and tapeworm[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of diarrhoea[
481
Title
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
World Health Organisation
Year
2009
ISBN
978-92-9061-249-0
Description
Traditional medicinal uses of 126 species from Papua New Guinea, including information on any modern research into the plants.
].

Root scrapings are chewed with a betel mixture as a contraceptive for women[
481
Title
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
World Health Organisation
Year
2009
ISBN
978-92-9061-249-0
Description
Traditional medicinal uses of 126 species from Papua New Guinea, including information on any modern research into the plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

A pioneer species, it is often gregarious and precedes the appearance of sal tree, for which it prepares a 'nursery' by killing off grasses[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The tree is considered to be a valuable nurse tree for more important forest tree species such as sal (Shorea robusta)[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

The glandular hairs that cover the ripe fruits contain a pigment that is the source of kamala powder or kamala dye, which is used for dyeing wool and silk bright orange[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
The dye is insoluble in cold water and slightly soluble in boiling water, but it is freely soluble and forms deep red solutions in alcohol, ether and alkalis[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The principal colouring substances are rottlerin (C30H28O8), crystallizing in salmon-coloured needles or plates, and its yellow isomer, isorottlerin, which together constitute about 11% of the weight of the kamala powder of ripe fruits[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Other substances of the dye are resins (ca. 65%), wax (ca. 2%), and small amounts of the pigments 4-hydroxyrottlerin and 3,4-dihydroxyrottlerin, volatile oil, citric and oxalic acid, tannin, and gum[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
A red dye has been extracted from the roots[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The fibrous bark is used to make rope and artificial fur[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The seeds yield about 35% of a quick-drying oil[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. Known as 'kamala seed oil', it can be used as a substitute for tung oil, obtained from Aleurites spp., in the production of rapid-drying paints and varnishes[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. The oil is also used as a fixative in cosmetic preparations and for colouring foodstuffs and beverages[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

The bark contains 6 - 10% tannin, the leaves contain a smaller amount[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The heartwood is pink to brown-coloured; the sapwood is cream[
327
Title
Euphorbiaceae of Malesia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/euphorbs/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online resource that is still being developed, it gives detailed botanical descriptions of plants in the family Euphorbiaceae found growing in Malesia (the region from Peninsual Malaysia through Indonesia, the Philippines).
]. The wood is whitish to pale reddish-grey, often with darker streaks, and fairly close and straight-grained[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is hard and moderately heavy[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is used for rafters, tool handles, matchboxes, and house-posts.[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
327
Title
Euphorbiaceae of Malesia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/euphorbs/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online resource that is still being developed, it gives detailed botanical descriptions of plants in the family Euphorbiaceae found growing in Malesia (the region from Peninsual Malaysia through Indonesia, the Philippines).
].
The wood is suitable for paper pulp[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The wood is often used as fuel wood[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - fairly easily propagated by seeds sown at the beginning of the rainy season in a seed bed in a nursery[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. As the germination rate is often poor (for example, because of drought and insect attack) it is advisable to sow close, about 5 cm apart, and to thin out later[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. About 5% germination can be expected in 65 - 82 days[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Dried seeds can be stored in gunny bags or in tins in a dry place for about 6 months without losing viability[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Suckers.

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